Colorado Voices: Honoring Ute History and Culture (Ernest House) - Gates Family Foundation
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“History started before 1876, and it’s important that we talk about the importance of Indigenous cultures to the area.”

In this Colorado Voices segment, Ernest House, Jr. shares his perspectives on and deep appreciation for Indigenous history and culture in Southwest Colorado. Ernest is a senior policy director at The Keystone Center, a 2018 Gates Harvard Kennedy School Fellow, and an enrolled member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Through most of the Foundation’s 75-year history, Gates had limited engagement with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. However in 2018, Gates staff reached out to Tribal leaders to learn about their aspirations. Top among those was a long-held dream of designing, launching, and governing a school that honors Ute culture, tradition, and language.

That year, Gates provided a grant to Keystone Policy Center to underwrite Ernest’s role supporting the exploration of a Tribally-governed school school on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation in Towaoc. This commitment was followed by an additional grant in 2019 to support work. In 2020, Keystone also received funding from Gates to support COVID relief efforts within the Ute Mountain Ute community.

In a separate Colorado Voices video here, Ernest shares the journey from concept to reality for the Tribe’s new school, Kwiyagat Community Academy, planned to open in Fall 2021.

COLORADO VOICES is a series produced by the Gates Family Foundation, to amplify individuals and ideas that are advancing educational equity, vibrant and sustainable communities, and stewardship of our state’s extraordinary natural resources.